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KCLS Recommends: Children's - Middle Eastern Heritage

The Cat at the Wall
The Cat at the Wall By Ellis, Deborah, 1960- Book - 2014 J ELLIS Available in some locations

Annotation:A cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house on the West Bank that has been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards. Should she help him? After all, she's just a cat. Or is she? Grades 4- 6.

I Am Malala
I Am Malala How One Girl Stood up for Education and Changed the World By Yousafzai, Malala, 1997- Book - 2014 YB YOUSAFZAI All copies in use Availability details Holds: 40 on 21 copies

Annotation:Young readers edition of the powerful story of one girl's fight for education. Ages 10 and up.

The Shahnameh
The Shahnameh The Persian Book of Kings By Laird, Elizabeth Book - 2012 J398.2 LAI Available in some locations

Annotation:The Shahnameh is a collection of stories and myths from ancient Persia, written into an epic poem by the poet Firdousi in the 10th century. This is a beautifully illustrated version for children. Ages 10 - 13.

The Turtle of Oman
The Turtle of Oman A Novel By Nye, Naomi Shihab Book - 2014 J NYE Available in some locations

Annotation:Aref, a third-grader from Muscat, Oman, is moving Michigan. He's not happy to be moving. His mother asks his grandfather, his Siddi, to help Aref pack. Siddi takes Aref around the country, storing up memories he can carry with him to a new home. Beautifully written in prose by award winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye. Ages 8 - 12

19 Varieties of Gazelle
19 Varieties of Gazelle Poems of the Middle East By Nye, Naomi Shihab Book - 2002 Y811.54 NYE Available in some locations

Annotation:This award winning book for young people collects all of Nye's poems about the Middle East and her experience as an Arab-American in the U.S. Ages 10 +

Arab Science and Invention in the Golden Age
Arab Science and Invention in the Golden Age By Blanchard, Anne Book - 2008 J509.174927 BLA Available in some locations

Annotation:Examines the inventions and scientific discoveries from the Golden Age of the Muslim world, and discusses the introduction of the decimal system, Alhazen's study of light, the maps drawn by Al-Idrisi, and more. Ages 9 – 12.

The Breadwinner
The Breadwinner By Ellis, Deborah, 1960- Book - 2000 J ELLIS Available in some locations Holds: 1 on 23 copies

Annotation:When her father is arrested by the Taliban, Parvana must disguise herself as a boy to earn money for her family. Ages 10 -12

Grandma Hekmatt Remembers
Grandma Hekmatt Remembers An Arab-American Family Story By Morris, Ann, 1930- Book - 2003 E962 MOR Available in some locations

Annotation:Three Arab-American girls learn about their family and cultural history from their grandmother, who grew up in Cairo, Egypt, and moved to New Jersey after her marriage. Ages 6 – 8.

Hands Around the Library
Hands Around the Library Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books By Roth, Susan L. Book - 2012 E962.055 ROT Available in some locations

Annotation:Documents the inspiring January 2011 story about how thousands of Egypt's students, library workers, and demonstrators joined hands around the great Library of Alexandria to protect the building and the freedom it represents.

How Many Donkeys?
How Many Donkeys? An Arabic Counting Tale By MacDonald, Margaret Read, 1940- Book - 2009 J398.209174 MAC Available in some locations

Annotation:When Jouha counts the ten donkeys carrying his dates to market, he repeatedly forgets to count the one he is riding on, causing him great consternation. Ages 6 – 8.

Joha Makes A Wish
Joha Makes A Wish A Middle Eastern Tale By Kimmel, Eric A. Book - 2010 E KIMMEL Available in some locations

Annotation:Based on the Joha tales of the Arabic-speaking world, in which a hapless man finds a wishing stick that brings him nothing but bad luck. Ages 6 - 9

The Librarian of Basra
The Librarian of Basra A True Story From Iraq By Winter, Jeanette Book - 2005 E020.92 WIN Available in some locations Holds: 2 on 20 copies

Annotation:A hopeful and inspiring true story about a librarian in Basra, Iraq. Ages 5 and up.

Mirror = مرآة - Mirror By Baker, Jeannie Book - 2010 E BAKER ARABIC ENGLISH Available in some locations

Annotation:In Sydney, Australia, and in Morocco, two boys and their families have a day of shopping. Readers are invited to compare illustrations in two wordless stories that are intended to be read one from left to right and the other from right to left. Ages 5 - 7

Nasreddine By Weulersse, Odile, 1938- Book - 2013 E WEULERSSE Available in some locations

Annotation:As Nasreddine and his father take dates, wool, chickens, or watermelon to market, people tease them no matter who is riding their donkey, and this causes Nasreddine embarrassment until his father helps him to understand. Ages 6 - 8

Nasreen's Secret School
Nasreen's Secret School A True Story From Afghanistan By Winter, Jeanette Book - 2009 J371.82342 WIN Available in some locations

Annotation:After her parents are taken away by the Taliban, young Nasreen stops speaking but as she spends time in a secret school, she slowly breaks out of her shell. Ages 6 - 9

One City, Two Brothers
One City, Two Brothers By Smith, Chris, 1947- Book - 2007 J398.20933 SMI Available in some locations

Annotation:King Solomon tells of how Jerusalem came to be founded with this tale from both Arab and Jewish traditions. Ages 5 – 10

Saladin Noble Prince of Islam By Stanley, Diane Book - 2002 JB SALADIN Available in some locations

Annotation:After the First Crusades conquered the divided factions of his native land, Saladin unites his people against the invaders. Ages 9 – 12.

Same Sun Here
Same Sun Here By House, Silas, 1971- Book - 2012 J HOUSE Available in some locations

Annotation:River, a Kentucky coal miner’s son, and Meena, newly immigrated to New York City from India, become pen pals. Ages 10-14

Saving Kabul Corner
Saving Kabul Corner By Senzai, N. H. Book - 2014 J SENZAI Available in some locations

Annotation:In the companion novel to Shooting Kabul, Ariana's family owns the Kabul Corner, an Afghan grocery store in suburban Freemont, California. The arrival of a rival Afghan grocery threatens the family livelihood and rekindles an old feud. When both grocery stores are vandalized, the kids must unite to stop the crime. Ages 8 - 12

The Secret Message : Based on A Poem by Rumi
The Secret Message : Based on A Poem by Rumi By Javaherbin, Mina Book - 2010 J398.20955 JAV Available in some locations

Annotation:In this retelling of a Persian folktale attributed to Jalaledin Rūmī, , a parrot tricks a wealthy merchant into setting him free. Ages 4-10

Shadow By Morpurgo, Michael Book - 2012 J MORPURGO Available in some locations Holds: 1 on 17 copies

Annotation:Surviving in a cave in war-torn Afghanistan, Aman and his mother are separated from Aman's beloved dog, Shadow, when they flee for the safety of England, a situation that compels Aman to accept help from new friends to reunite with his dog. Ages 9-14

Shadow Spinner
Shadow Spinner By Fletcher, Susan, 1951- Book - 1998 J FLETCHER Available in some locations Holds: 2 on 9 copies

Annotation:When Marjan, a thirteen-year-old crippled girl, joins the Sultan's harem in ancient Persia, she gathers for Shahrazad the stories which will save the queen's life. Ages 11 and up.

Shooting Kabul
Shooting Kabul By Senzai, N. H. Book - 2010 J SENZAI Available in some locations

Annotation:Escaping from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the summer of 2001, eleven-year-old Fadi and his family immigrate to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Fadi schemes to return to the Pakistani refugee camp where his little sister was accidentally left behind. Ages 9-14

Silent Music
Silent Music A Story of Baghdad By Rumford, James, 1948- Book - 2008 E RUMFORD Available in some locations

Annotation:As bombs and missiles fall on Baghdad in 2003, a young boy uses the art of calligraphy to distance himself from the horror of war. All ages.

Tiger and Turtle
Tiger and Turtle By Rumford, James, 1948- Book - 2010 E RUMFORD Available in some locations

Annotation:When a tiger and a turtle both want a flower that has fallen to the ground, they argue over it until a fight breaks out between them. Ages 4-8

Time to Pray
Time to Pray By Addasi, Maha, 1968- Book - 2010 E ADDASI ARABIC ENGLISH Available in some locations

Annotation:When young Yasmin goes for a visit, her grandmother teaches her a Muslim's daily prayers, makes special prayer clothes, and gives a gift that will help Yasmin remember when to pray. Ages 5-8

Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur!
Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur! A Palestinian Folktale By MacDonald, Margaret Read, 1940- Book - 2006 J398.209569 MAC Available in some locations

Annotation:A childless woman's prayers are answered by the arrival of a talking pot, but the new mother knows that Little Pot must learn right from wrong just like any child. Ages 3 – 8.

Wanting Mor
Wanting Mor By Khan, Rukhsana, 1962- Book - 2009 J KHAN Available in some locations

Annotation:.Jameela feels relatively secure, sustained by her Muslim faith and the love of her mother, Mor. But when Mor dies, Jameela's father impulsively decides to start a new life in Kabul where Jameela ultimately becomes an orphan after being abandoned in a busy marketplace by her father and stepmother. Ages 10 +

What About Me?
What About Me? By Young, Ed Book - 2002 J398.208829 YOU Available in some locations

Annotation:A young boy follows the instructions of the Grand Master in the hope of gaining knowledge. Ages 5 – 8

Where the Streets Had A Name
Where the Streets Had A Name By Abdel-Fattah, Randa Book - 2010 J ABDEL-FATTAH Available in some locations

Annotation:Thirteen-year-old Hayaat makes the perilous journey from Bethlehem, across the Separation Wall, into Jerusalem in an attempt to fill an empty hummus jar with soil from the land of her grandmother's ancestral home. Ages 9–14

The Wise Fool
The Wise Fool Fables From the Islamic World By Shahrukh Husain Book - 2011 J398.20956 SHA Available in some locations

Annotation:A retelling of twenty-two Middle Eastern folktales about Mulla Nasreddin Hoca, a wise man remembered for his insightful and humorous stories. Ages 6 - 12

The Wooden Sword
The Wooden Sword A Jewish Folktale From Afghanistan By Stampler, Ann Redisch Book - 2012 J398.208992 STA Available in some locations

Annotation:Impressed by a poor Jewish shoemaker's belief that God will ensure everything turns out as it should, a shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, devises a series of hardships to test the man's faith. Ages 5-8


The “Middle East” (also called the “Near East”) is a region in Western Asia and North Africa. It consists of countries from Libya to Afghanistan, usually including Egypt, Sudan, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the other countries of the Arabian peninsula. Although the Middle East is majority Arab in ethnicity and the largest practiced religion is Islam, this list will consider books for children that are from any of the many ethnicities and religious groups of the Middle East. The people and culture of anyone who is geographically from or descended from the Middle East are included on this list. This booklist is not intended to be a booklist about Islam. However, Islamic people and culture may be portrayed in books that describe people from the Middle East or people of Middle Eastern Heritage. The list may include picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, folklore, biography, both fiction and non-fiction. Books will be selected by qualified librarians based on their quality, availability and kid appeal.

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